Lovely Lycoris


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The timing came together perfectly last weekend, the blooming of the yellow lycoris and the moody autumnal skies. The lighting was perfect post afternoon rain, when after keeping an eye on the lycoris flower buds for several days, the blooms burst open. I always forget that we have these planted here, tossed into the location sometime after we moved here and before we renovated this bed and built the others. They’ve done well though, reminding us for a few weeks every year that they still exist.

Forest Turns 4


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It’s hard to believe this little dude is 4! What happened to my wittle bitty baby? He’s now a wittle bitty kiddo with a mind of his own! Aside from the periods of whining that come from him, (“Pleeeeeeaseeeee!” after we’ve said no to something, or throwing himself in the floor when he doesn’t get his way) I would say 4 is a pretty good age. He’s been potty trained since just after turning 2 but its been in the last six to eight months when he’s just gotten good at heading to the bathroom by himself without reminders. We recently removed the toddler potty from the bathrooms and installed a smaller potty seat for kids on the bathroom upstairs–we’ve had one downstairs for quite awhile–and just forced that change so we could do away with the toddler potty. Now if we can get him to wipe himself then we are all set! It’s the little things!

Other good things about being four include holding good conversations with him, increased drawing skills, generally good listening and following directions skills (sometimes bribes and deals get made to get things agreed to! hah!), and lots of self directed play. Now, if we can move beyond the picky food eating stage then I think we’ll be in a really good spot!

Forest’s 4th birthday was a lot better than last year’s which came on the tail of Hurricane Harvey. Last year it was just me and Forest for his birthday as Chris had gone to Oklahoma for work since he’d postponed it earlier in the week from Harvey. Forest and I were going to drive to Fort Worth to stay with my parents for a couple of days but the gas shortage paranoia after Harvey caused all sorts of lines and gas fuel shortages throughout the state and I didn’t want to risk running out of gas in Fort Worth or attempting to meet Chris halfway in Oklahoma on Forest’s birthday itself. So, we stayed home. This year we had a long weekend down in Galveston, though it wasn’t without its own issues.

Saturday was a lovely day with thunderstorms all around the island but not where we were on the beach, so we were able to enjoy a long afternoon and nearly early evening chilling on the beach. Forest enjoys it when Chris digs a big pit, aka: a tub, and he can play in that for hours. We spent some time this summer trying to get Forest to learn to swim a bit and so he’s getting a bit more daring about splashing around in the shallower areas of the water and we spent plenty of time trying to get him to pay attention to when a wave would come ashore so he wouldn’t have a mouth full of saltwater. I suppose he will learn eventually!

Chris managed to find that he could use points at the Hotel Galvez, a historic hotel that opened in 1911 after the seawall was built post-1900 catastrophic hurricane. In the basement area of the hotel is a fascinating museum of sorts with photos from the island’s early days, including a hotel that was built around the area of the current Galvez that was destroyed in the storm. I always find it interesting to see how much the island has changed over the years. It’s even morphed into a bit of a different island than I knew from 1998-2002.

Sunday brought rain so we spent the day at the aquarium at Moody Gardens. It was recently upgraded a bit and even though I worked there for about 10 months my senior year in college, I’m still not super impressed with their upgrades. When you walk into the main exhibits you are now greeted with a tall aquarium in the center of the building that spans two levels and is supposed to mimic the reef of an oil rig–a fact of life for the Gulf of Mexico. Now with this rig in the middle, the natural flow through the North Pacific exhibits down to the lower levels, up and then around and out to the Caribbean tanks—now it is chaos with people going wherever, up and down the ramps instead of just one direction. I was not thrilled about that change.

There was an upgrade to signage and artwork which was nice. Out with the older videos and in with interactive signage that actually showed just about everything in any one tank. Another thing I was not impressed with was the lack of education staff at the exhibits. When I worked there someone was standing to talk at just about all of the main aquarium tanks as well as the touch tanks. But even when we passed one of the times through the touch tanks someone was not attending that tank. I’m guessing they dropped their education staff considerably which I don’t think is a good thing.

Monday, Labor Day and Forest’s birthday, was even more wet as it continued storming overnight. Galveston stated having street flooding but we didn’t know until we got onto Broadway to head home and found ourselves in a long line of traffic leaving the island. The south side of Broadway was already flooding and our side had some issues on the far north end. Businesses on the south side, some were taking on water when the few cars on that side caused a wake as they drove and a couple people were putting out sand bags or shoveling out water. Unfortunately the rain pattern over the last few weeks has been rough for Galveston and they’ve had flooding issues bad enough for the Texas A&M Galveston campus (my campus) to close a couple of times. It probably took thirty minutes or more to get off the island but I was never so glad to get off that road! By the time we got home the rain at the house didn’t amount to nearly anything what the coast had been getting so it wasn’t terrible.

Forest is super into dinosaurs these days and we picked up his dinosaur cake at Kroger on the way home. He spent the summer watching a lot of Dino Dan and Dino Dana on Amazon Prime and he has learned a lot about dinosaurs from that. I highly recommend those two series for kids! Needless to say, there was quite of dinosaur themed toys for him this year!

I wish the weather had cooperated a bit more for us over the weekend but we made the best of it! And you can’t go wrong with spending a couple of nights in a sweet hotel!

Forest’s Birth Day
Forest’s First Birthday
Forest’s Second Birthday
Forest’s Third Birthday

Sunday Sips


My cousin Elizabeth used to do Sunday Morning Coffee posts (bring them back, Elizabeth!) and I used to do variations of something called ‘Sunday Reads and Listens’ but that just seems too long and cumbersome so in a nod to Elizabeth I’m changing it to Sunday Sips–a few things for you to read, watch, or listen to on your Sunday morning or afternoon.

Watching:

+Nanette on Netflix. When it came out back in the summer I saw several people and news stories talking about Hannah Gadsby’s stand-up act but I didn’t have a chance to watch it until last week. It is thought provoking while also funny because: comedy, but I’d venture to say it is more of a very long TED talk where you get a mirror held up to you. Everyone should watch this.
+The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. Based on the book, which I haven’t read, however I really enjoyed the movie. I think I’ve mentioned this before in regards to some of the books I’ve read taking place during WWII but we Americans really get a glossing over of WWI and WWII in school with a really big “GO AMERICA!” slant. So many facets to those wars that we don’t learn about and this movie taught me a bit more, too.
+Heritage Minutes: Lucy Maud Montgomery, this is a beautiful one minute montage of LMM with bits of Anne Shirley mixed in, about LMM’s writing life, her life with depression, and life living in Canada. It is something I wish would be turned into a full length movie about LMM’s life.
+I’m catching up on Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel. Season 4 started in August and I’m about 3 episodes in. Just haven’t had the time to watch since it is on the tv and not on a computer so I can’t easily watch when Forest is around due to the violence. It’s starting to get more into BB territory but not quite there.
+And in August I binged the last three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I quit watching after McDreamy died because I felt the show as done then but my mom convinced me to pick it back up because it was still really good in her opinion. I was feeling the urge to watch something so I went for it. Not sure I will add it back to my fall line up or just watch it when the next season comes back on to Netflix. I kind of like watching something in one batch so I don’t have to dedicate a ton of time each week to watching something. We’ll see.

Reading:
The Plant Hunter: An online magazine based out of Australia about plants and gardening. Just came across this recently and love it!
Butterflies in the Storm via bioGraphic about endangered butterflies in the Florida Keys in relation to Hurricane Irma.

I’m loving newsletters these days. It’s like a mini-blog post in my email. A lot of them come through at the end of the week which make them lovely to read when you need a pick-me-up towards the end of a busy week. Some are monthly. Here’s a few that I really enjoy
+The Ann Friendman weekly: Ann is a writer, journalist, and one half of the duo who runs the Call Your Girlfriend podcast. Being as Ann is a journalist she has her tabs on all things news worthy so if you can’t keep up with the politics of the moment you can get a good round-up at the end of the week with her newsletter. Highly recommend this one.
+Pantsuit Politics Newsletter: Another newsletter to keep tabs on politics without having to bury your head in the news.
+Austin Kleon newsletter. Austin shares tidbits from his blog, books, or other artsy or current events through this blog.
+Kim Werker Weekly Digest newsletter. Kim is a knitter, crocheter, crafter, and writer and shares interesting things going on in the craft world on her blog as well as things she’s been reading by herself and with her son.
+She Explores newsletter. A spinoff of the podcast, this newsletter brings you stories from the outdoor world that involve women. I actually have a hard time listening to the podcast because it is so heavily edited, I pick and choose what i listen to, but I do enjoy the newsletter.
+Susannah Conway Love Letters. I used to read Susannah’s blog back in the day but kind of fell off from reading it after awhile. However, I really enjoy her lovely newsletters. I should probably check in on her blog sometime.
+Girls Gone WOD Podcast Newsletter. This is a Crossfit/fitness podcast that I’ve started listening to more often. They have a great round-up of links or stories in their monthly newsletter.
+Cultivating Place Newsletter. This is probably one of my favorite podcasts that is actually a radio show based out of northern California. Jennifer writers a lovely monthly newsletter about gardening or natural history that makes you want to read a book by her—which we will in due time because she’s wrapping one up for Timber Press!

That’s just a few of the newsletters—do you subscribe to any? Do share!

Listening:
+Slow Burn podcast: I listened to last year’s Nixon series which was fascinating because I only knew the cursory background and didn’t live through that time period. This year they are going through the Clinton scandal which is equally fascinating because I was alive for all of that but in a period of time where I wasn’t really interested in politics and didn’t really understand all of the facets to the story. The most recent episode with with Linda Tripp which will have you wanting to rage-throw things because that woman knew no boundaries and put herself into a situation she should never have done so all because of her personal political and moral inclinations. It’s a very interesting series if you want to know reflect on how that situation influenced more recent political moments.
+The Wilderness podcast: This is series produced by the Pod Save America dudes about the history of the Democratic party. Pretty fascinating stuff. The last couple of episodes have been a little less interesting but I’m enjoying learning more about the history of the party, the good and bad, in podcast form.

Those are just two off the top of my head, I know I’ve saved single episodes recently but I can’t access those at the moment. Anything you are listening to?

Please share anything you’ve read, listened to, or watched recently! I’d love to know!

Forest Friday | Summer Boy


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I’m not sure if it is someone at daycare influencing him by complaining about the heat or if it is just a phase, but this summer was a bit like pulling teeth at times to get Forest to play outside for any length of time. Inevitably he would complain that he was sweaty and hot and I had to continually remind him that I was also sweaty and hot but we were playing outside and that’s the way things were going to go. Sure, when it was extremely hot we were hibernating indoors but most of the time were out during the cooler parts of the day. I’m hoping this is just a phase. Most of the time he was more content to just play on the porch which was problematic for me when I needed to work in the edible garden or wanted to wander the yard. There was a lot more close-to-the-house time this summer.

I have a post to write about his 4th birthday but still need to wade through some photos of that. Hopefully this weekend I can tackle those and get something up for the weekend. So far we’re still wading through some Threenager business but 4 is proving to show he’s really got a mind of his own and he’s going to let you know it!

Scenes from the Summer Garden | 4


The last in my summer garden series! Thanks for keeping up! I promise to be more prompt in my posting of garden photos from here on out—or well, I’ll try! 😉

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And like that, August brought ripening beautyberries, signaling the approach of fall.

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The gulf fritillaries like to pupate on the front porch pole, blending in quite well until they do weird things like this, their chrysalis angled out an odd way. That’s what usually gets my attention that they are there. This one eclosed properly later on, which I was thankful about.

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This was the first year the flame acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, in the front flower bed properly flowered. The last year or two it might have spit out one or two flowers but it was mostly a blob of green in the bed. We have another one in the side yard bed that doesn’t bloom but produces a lot of vegetation that cascades over the side of the bed. I’m also tempted to move this elsewhere.

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Weeding, weeding, every day weeding. Ok, definitely not every day and not every week. But this garden path. I know I’ve complained about it a bit recently but it is driving me insane.

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I’ve enjoyed letting the false nettle clump up in this section of the garden as well as letting it be host to the red admiral caterpillars this summer. Chris mentioned taking it out of the flower bed after this season and it was something I had been pondering on for a bit, too. We have plenty of it around the yard and along the pond so the plant is around for the red admirals. I did end up ripping it all out and throwing it into the compost over last weekend. Now, to replace it with something else. Maybe the ‘Argentine Skies’ salvia I mentioned in the first summer post?

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I think this is a Habranthus rain lily but being as I’m writing this up during preschooler bath time, I can’t run outside and check the tag. It’s one of the few plants in the garden where the tag has actually stayed put.

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This is a hidden ginger—and another plant that, I believe, still has its tag but I’ll have to edit this later!

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The butterfly ginger got a little floppier this year. I had to cut back several stalks because it got in the way of the path and just looked messy a few times. This area of the garden got a little shadier due to the fig filling out more and some of the neighbor’s tree branches encroaching more into our yard. I think we will need to do some branch trimming come winter.

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I’m digging the brugmansia, datura, and chocolate plant, Pseuderanthemum alatum, combination here. The first two should start putting some blooms soon and the chocolate plant is a generous self sower in this area.

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Lemon balm + Passiflora lutea. The passiflora comes up naturally in the area.

Mid-summer had promise but by the end of summer the garden is showing some wear. I’m ready for it to wind down just a bit but will be enjoying what I can as these golden evenings become darker. A good cleanup is in order but that will be on-going as leaves fall and plants senesce. If you had a garden, how did your summer garden go?

Scenes from the Summer Garden | 3


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This has been the Summer Of Okra for me. I put it in the place that okra loves—full sun—and let it go to town. Being as I’m the only person in the house who enjoys okra, I planted three short rows from seed we had from several years ago. We’ve only ever grown three types: Eagle Pass, Hill Country Red, and Stewart’s Zeebest, so it is pretty easy to figure out which is which once they come up and fruit. Yes, the seed was from unlabeled bags in our seed catalog! This year it was Stewart’s Zeebest and Eagle Pass. I would like to try a new variety next year so I may look into some other heirloom types when it comes to ordering next spring.

I ate plenty of okra raw, grilled some, buffalo okra fries, made okra gumbo, and I think this last bunch might get frozen. I’m picking every few days and have to get our largest step ladder to reach the tallest plants which are now at least 9′ tall. Even utilizing the tall step ladder still requires me to bend the very tallest plants down so I can trim off the okra!

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Other plants I’ve been harvesting regularly have been cowpeas and various beans. I’ve been blanching and freezing the cowpeas so we can cook them up at a later date. This year I grew pinkeye purple hull and they produced perfectly. Next year I’m planning on an entire bed of them since they did so well. I only planted three ‘cages’ worth—using the tall trellis cages that Chris built for the snap peas.

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The asparagus really need a fence or something to hold it up. It’s beyond time to get something done about that.

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This year I got basil started in late May before we left for Florida. Next year I need to get it started in late April instead. So far I’ve dried a few of the cuttings I’ve taken but otherwise we haven’t been very good about using it.

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Letting the rudbeckia bloom after they self sowed out here has been a good idea. There several clumps we have spread around the garden have really brightened the garden up and lured in the pollinators. We had a rainstorm sometime mid-summer that caused the blooms to flop over a bit, though they have continued to bloom despite that challenge.

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Behold! My beautiful zucchini! Yeah, too bad it is now dead! Thanks squash vine borers! I was trying to trick you by planting a bit later but it seems you’ve almost had the last laugh! I still have a couple of plants out there but the biggest and strongest couldn’t put up a fight. It looks like this week is the last week to get another crop sown so I may try it once more, hoping those little buggers are done for the year.

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The Red Siberian tomatoes I sowed and planted back in June are doing well but I’m still unsure how they are going to go. They could probably use another round of fish emulsion. They have tried to flower a couple of times but it has still been too hot to set fruit. Now, two self-sown tomato plants (probably Matt’s Wild Cherry) came up in another location and are starting to produce tiny fruits—that’s what this flower is from.

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I am excited about this one! I have a couple of ripening fruit photos on my phone and will have to share those at a later date, but this is ‘Rich Sweetness’, a palm-sized melon that turns orange when ripe. I have one nearly ripe now, though it started to split a few days ago. I can’t decide if I should harvest or see if will finish ripening. And I found a second one growing so maybe there’s some promise in a few more fruit before the season is over.

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Another new plant I’m growing this summer are lima beans! I bought them at the grocery store back in May and thought I’d give them a whirl. They grew and bloomed for a lot of the summer but really didn’t start producing fruit until August. I’ve harvested a few pods but it hasn’t been anything significant to eat in bulk yet. I’m still debating whether they will be worth it in the future or if I should try a different variety.

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Overall it was a decent season in the edible garden, though it could have been more productive. I feel like I’ve got a good idea on a few things to change for next year—more beds of beans and cowpeas—and maybe the Seminole pumpkins will germinate next season. That’s one change from last year I am bummed about, that they never germinated. Rather, one germinated but it did poorly rather quickly. It was a little harder this summer because we were gone for 11 days in June for peak blackberry and tomato season and then I spent several weeks getting back on top of weeds after that and re-mulching the paths. So, the balance got off-kilter there.

Scenes from the Summer Garden | 2


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It’s been a good year for cicadas around here, lots of exoskeletons and dead full body cicadas can be found. As it is still quite warm here, they are producing their lovely sounds in the evenings, too.

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One of the last Formosa lily blooms. I’m going to save seed again this year so if you are interested in seeds let me know!

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Lacewing eggs.

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Compass plant, Silphium laciniatum and Ozark bluestar, Amsonia illustris seedlings on the potting bench. They have been the easiest of my native seed order from Prairie Moon that I received. The compass plant I tried to establish in the garden earlier this year failed to take because of the deer (mostly hoof disturbance) but the bluestar is doing well despite some chomps by the deer. I’m hoping to get these growing larger (and they already are from this photo taken in mid-August) to get a nice clump established next year.

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Out on the dock looking north along the pond. You can see the pine trees still laying in the water from Harvey. Chris has been trying to chop them up somewhat so they can float away or maybe drag a couple smaller pieces on shore to burn. Otherwise, sediment is definitely building up behind that and we’d like to prevent a peninsula. We’re already having problems in the pond because it needs to be dredged and our little town’s parks board doesn’t exactly have the funding to properly get this done. The sediment has created little islands upstream next to our neighbor’s house and the neighbor beyond that. It’s frustrating.

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A look south along the shore to the alligator flag, Thalia geniculata, with the plumeria photobombing for the focus!

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Oh hey, variegated plumeria! Yes, you can get your day on the blog!

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Swamp lilies, Crinum americanum

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The swamp tupelo, Nyssa aquatica, with the weeping bald cypress down by the pond. You can see a post from when we planted the tupelo here but I can’t find a post about the bald cypress. Both have grown significantly! I really should do a more detailed pond shoreline tour later in the month and dig through for comparison photos. It’s changed quite a bit.

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And you can’t not love the mimosa tree when its blooming on a bright blue sky day! That’s despite the mimosa being a problematic exotic plant that we debated on cutting down when we moved in. But it’s about a tall as our balcony off our bedroom so it makes for a lovely view in the moments we decide to step out there!

Scenes from the Summer Garden | 1


I had goals this summer to write regularly about the garden instead of letting my photos languish in their folders on my computer without processing them. Instead those goals came and went and I only ever processed photos in large batches and then never made the time to write about the garden. The result is that there are far too many photos and things to share about the garden for one blog post so I’ve drafted up several posts to share the summer garden from July through the first of September. The last time I shared a post specifically on the garden as a whole was The June Garden. Obviously, a lot grew from July through August.

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Fig season, the first-ish to second week of July, came and went with only a handful of figs picked for humans. The rest were foraged by birds and squirrels because I could never remember to go out and pick them. And when I did I would find the figs in various states of not quite ripe and then the next time I looked they would be picked on by said animals. Such is life with the fig tree.

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The Aristilochia fimbriata flourished in its location in the side-yard garden this year, rambling along the ground and up a little bit of the chain link fence. Because we had the pipevine caterpillars this year I made sure to get seed and start new plants this year. Because the plant tolerates a shadier locale in the garden I will definitely be trying to find a few more places for it to reside in the garden next year.

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Almond verbena, Aloysia virgata. This plant needs to be heavily trimmed back and honestly, I wouldn’t mind it being removed from its current location or just buying a new plant to put elsewhere in the yard. When we bought it I think we thought it would be more bushy than it became. At is full glory it was a small tree and then one of the colder winters caused it to die back about halfway and from there it has sent out side shoots and odd looking branches. It’s not very pretty and frankly, it is annoying to walk by.

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The pink bananas on the side yard garden, taken here July 9th, hadn’t quite filled out yet. Now they are dense and create quite a bit of shade over there. I’m thinking of relocating the Salvia guaranitica ‘Argentina Skies’ to another location in the garden. I enjoy them being there, especially when they cascade into the walk way but Chris doesn’t and cuts it back more frequently than I would like. Plus, it just seems too tight in this area now, so maybe give the bananas more room and move the salvia to a brighter location would be a good move.

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American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana

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The deer have been chowing on my blackberry lilies more this year so they have not bloomed to the abundance they typically do.

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There have been far too many milkweed beetle progeny about the garden this year!

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Next year: more Salvia coccinea in the beds.

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July wild.

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At the beginning of the year I had thought I’d try to take weekly photos of the garden from this angle to do a time lapse at the end of the year but instead I fell off the photo wagon back in April at least. I’m lucky if I remember once a month. You can see this angle after the hard freeze in January here

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I know this is slightly out of focus and not on the flower itself but I still love the photo. It’s Salvia azurea and I hope it reseeds itself well in the garden next year. I’ll likely buy more seeds, too, because the blooms are so lovely.

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‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia

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It looks so neat and tidy here. Contrast to how it looks today!

I’ll be sharing more scenes from the garden all week!

Pedernales River Explorations Part II


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Palafoxia callosa

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Cooperia drummondii

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Pluchea

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white mist flower—not sure, one of these three–> Ageratum, Conoclinium, Eupatorium I couldn’t find a white version in my Texas wildflowers book(s).

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Senna lindheimeriana

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While Chris fishes along the Pedernales, I usually take time to poke around the fringes of the rocks to see what plants or invertebrate wildlife may be lurking about to photograph. Sometimes Forest is with me playing in the rocks or whatnot, but as he’s gotten older he’s been able to follow directions and stay around with Chris while Chris fishes. We were out one morning along the river and as I was poking about looking at the early fall wildflowers making their home in the dry, rocky fringes of the river banks, I noticed an odd flowing section of water off to the side with wetland vegetation intermingled. It hadn’t rained recently and the river hadn’t been up so I thought it was strange. I followed it up and realized it was a seep coming out of the ground! So cool! I had never noticed it before in our other visits so this was a great find. I’ll be checking on it again in the future! It’s not too often you come across a spring. Often you will see springs noted on historical topo maps but so many of those have been destroyed or dried up due to various pressures such as logging, filling, ground water loss, etc. I’m reading a historical fiction book right now based on the Buffalo Soldiers working in SW Texas and they talk about actively destroying water sources that the local tribes were using as way to eliminate the tribes or force them onto reservations. So, there’s that, too.

Well, hopefully I don’t take nearly a year to write posts about our trips any longer, though you know, I do have some photos still from our trip to Seattle in 2012! hah!

Pedernales River Explorations


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Pedernales Falls State Park is one of those state parks you wish was in your backyard. A park that you could easily pop into on a weekday after work or for a good weekend adventure. In some ways, mostly in its size, definitely not in its habitat, it reminds me a bit of Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Florida. Large enough to be able to roam freely in the ‘backcountry’ on a wide array of trails but also with river access. River access here is a bit different than at JD, mostly in that no one is paddling along like they do on the Loxahatchee River. It’s mostly a fishing river with some swimming and tubing on the lower areas, though definitely not at the falls. The other difference would be the imminent danger of flash flooding on the Pedernales.

It’s hard to believe these photos were from almost a year ago when we went for Chris’ birthday. His birthday is at the end of this month! Forest has grown about two shoe sizes since then, too! And looking at our camping reservations through spring, looks like we won’t be hitting up Pedernales this year unless we change our camping plans at some point, which is always an inevitable thing with weather in December and January.

I’m looking forward to camping season—only three more weeks!

There’s a part two to this which I’ll share later this week!

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